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Management traits make MySQL Enterprise a fit for trading platform

MySQL under the Oracle flag has not been without controversy. But the MySQL Enterprise Edition fits the bill for makers of a trading platform with demanding customers.

When Alexander Culiniac and his colleagues at startup TickTrade Systems Inc. set out to build a cloud-based trading platform, there were some basic constraints. Naturally, the systems had to work well on the cloud and be economical.

They also had to meet the demanding security and management requirements of the target audience -- banks and other financial institutions intent on supporting clients' over-the-counter trading needs. Those needs influenced TickTrade to opt for MySQL Enterprise Edition database software from Oracle for the data layer underpinning its trading systems, according to Culiniac, who is COO at TickTrade in Toronto.

MySQL, under Oracle's stewardship, has sometimes been viewed with suspicion and seen as an open source icon that has been co-opted; but, in the TickTrade implementation, it met a match.

"The main challenge in managing such a private cloud and database is the concern that clients have around privacy and security. We have found the Oracle MySQL software can be monitored and managed to enterprise standards," Culiniac said.

Replication and encryption

Culiniac cited replication, monitoring and encryption capabilities, which were updated in Oracle's 2015 MySQL 5.7 release of the software, as important steps on the road to achieving security for financial data in the cloud.

Since we began to offer this platform 18 months ago, we haven't had one reliability incident related to the database server in cloud.
Alexander CuliniacCOO, TickTrade Systems

He said TickTrade uses MySQL databases to handle operational, analytical and historical data stores, and each client has its own software "stack" -- comprising infrastructure and database servers -- on TickTrade's private cloud.

"We chose to leverage Oracle's enterprise version of MySQL," Culiniac said, explaining that TickTrade looked at "quite a few branches of community versions" of the original MySQL. "It was a clear choice between open source and the enterprise version in terms of monitoring, encryption, real-time replications and real-time backup," he added.

While TickTrade chose the Oracle commercial version of MySQL, Culiniac does see value in the software's open source side. Being open source and having a community is a benefit, he said, especially in terms of the wealth of information available on the software.

LAMP still burning?

MySQL was one of the charter members of the open source software club called LAMP -- for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP -- which arose along with the tide of web and cloud applications beginning in the early 2000s.

MySQL came under the Oracle umbrella when the company purchased Sun Microsystems in 2010. As part of the Oracle database stable, MySQL has been continually updated, with many of those updates oriented toward enterprise management needs.

Database management system market leader Oracle's stewardship of MySQL gained the attention of open source advocates and government regulators. That may have been expected, given MySQL's position as an early open source phenomenon, and Oracle's established stature as a high-ticket corporate software provider.

Still, in some cases, the Oracle branding can help further the MySQL database's use. Culiniac said that among the factors in TickTrade's database decision was the company's existing relationship with Oracle, and the fact that a majority of its banking customers had established the core Oracle database as a company standard.

"One of the important features for us is reliability in a cloud environment. Since we began to offer this platform 18 months ago, we haven't had one reliability incident related to the database server in cloud," he said. Culiniac credits associated MySQL Enterprise Edition tools, for helping to achieve high reliability.

"The database is stable, and the management tools that come with the enterprise edition help us manage our entire stack in deployment," he said.

Monitoring improvements

MySQL Enterprise has become progressively easier to work with in recent years as additional monitoring capabilities have been added, claimed Oracle's Tomas Ulin, vice president of MySQL development. With MySQL Enterprise 5.7 came the addition of sys Schema objects that help database administrators (DBAs) interpret performance data for the database, he noted.

"From a management perspective, that has been the biggest innovation," said Ulin. He added that the recent release allows DBAs to change more parameters on database settings, without taking the database offline.

In terms of further improvements on the way for MySQL Enterprise 5.7, Ulin pointed to a recent preview release of MySQL's InnoDB Cluster that is intended to simplify programming of high-availability setups.

That InnoDB software became MySQL Server's default storage engine in 2010. In September of last year, the MySQL team released code for the software's next "milestone" release, dubbed MySQL 8.0. (Yes, the release numbering will skip past versions 6 and 7.)

Investment in MySQL

Oracle's MySQL moves will continue to be watched. Among observers are some who have less doubt than others about the database giant's intentions.

Oracle has invested a lot into making MySQL more scalable, and the pace of new versions has increased, in the opinion of software development veteran Bill Karwin, senior database architect at West Corp. in Scotts Valley, Calif. Karwin has also served as an Oracle ACE, contributed to MySQL and headed training for MySQL and MongoDB company Percona.

"MySQL is quite mature, and it's used on a number of very high-scale and prominent websites," he said. Karwin said some initial MySQL user community fear and doubt over Oracle's commitment to MySQL was understandable.

"The people wondered why Oracle wanted another database. But the fact is that it was not unprecedented," he said. He pointed to Oracle's experience buying other database companies, including TimesTen and Sleepycat, as examples of its ability to foster databases other than the core Oracle system.

When asked to sum up MySQL under Oracle so far, Karwin answered with a question he has posed before: "How many years will it take to prove Oracle is a good steward of the product before you let go of your doubt?"

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